The Oak Forest High School Bengals football team (4-1, 2-1) was dealt two significant blows Friday night.
The Bengals lost a 17-14 heartbreaker to the Lemont Indians to spoil homecoming, and star fullback Matt Barry went down with a season-ending knee injury.
Barry, a junior who had rushed for 472 yards on 65 carries this season with 5 touchdowns, was knocked out during the first quarter and did not return.
After Barry went down, the Bengals and Indians ended up locked in a 14-14 tie in the fourth quarter, before disaster struck Oak Forest.
Late in the game, the Bengals fumbled the ball at the Indians' 42-yard line, opening up an opportunity for Lemont to surge ahead. The Indians drove down the the Oak Forest 17-yard line, where kicker Joe Hehir drilled a 27-yard field goal with six seconds left in the game, giving Lemont the 17-14 win.
While the action was taking place on the field, the Barrys were in the trainer's room, talking with doctors.
"We went into the trainer's room with the doctor at halftime and he showed us what he saw," the elder Barry said. The doctor all but confirmed the tear.
Ken said that Matt told him a possible helmet colliding with his knee caused the injury, although he wasn't sure.
"He felt as though he got hit by a helmet in the knee," Ken said. "But honestly I don't think that was it. ... I think, every week in games it just never got time to heal. If he did get hit with a helmet in the knee during the Lemont game, that was just the icing on the cake."
After an MRI Saturday, Sept. 22, doctors confirmed the worst: Matt's ACL was almost completely torn.
"From what my wife said, there's like a little strand of the ACL left and the rest is torn," Ken said. "They didn't give a percentage or anything. They said his meniscus is damaged and that because of the trauma there is blood in the knee."
Ken said that his son faces a long road of 3 to 4 weeks of therapy, before surgery. Afterward, Barry will face an arduous 6 to 9 months of rehabiltation and physical therapy.
“If everything goes well, he'll be right for next year's football season,” Ken said.
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